Our main reason for visiting St Leonards-on-Sea was to see family who had recently downsized and moved into a rather lovely apartment there. It was my first visit to this grand Victorian seaside town full of imposing villas, many rundown enough to make them affordable for buyers wanting to move out of their shoebox London apartments. We arrived in glorious sunshine on Wednesday afternoon after a very pretty train ride through Kent.
After a morning spent chewing the fat with M and R the following day, we took ourselves off to Hastings Contemporary who were staging an impressive exhibition of Leon Kossoff and Chaïm Soutine‘s work. Both shared a predilection for painting in oils so thick the resulting pieces are almost sculptural. Of the two, I was most impressed by Kossoff’s work in this style, best appreciated by standing back after a close appreciation of his many-layered technique. My favourite was the somewhat disconcerting ‘Head of Seedo’ although the very different ‘Children’s Swimming Pool, Autumn Afternoon’ came a close second. In contrast to his landscapes, Soutine’s portraits were quite delicate showing the influence of his close friend Modigliani, a portrait of whom is included in the exhibition.
Friday began gloomily with rain getting heavier by the minute, hardly unexpected in a British April and yet I was poorly prepared thanks to my Pollyanna weather sense. By mid-morning it was dry enough to walk to Hastings Old Town whose fishing village roots are clear from the huddle of houses stretching up the cliffs. It’s very pretty, lots of independent shops and cafes. Sadly, we failed to track down Inspector Foyle‘s house but maybe next time.
One more walk around our local park on Saturday morning, where we spotted a turtle sunning itself, before a last coffee with M and R. An enjoyable, relaxing break with not one visit to anything related to 1066 and the famous battle.
And the DNF? For some reason I just couldn’t seem to get into Anna Bruno’s Ordinary Hazards which I started before we set off. It’s set over a single night in a small-town bar frequented by the recently divorced Emma. According to the blurb, a series of decisions will change her and her fellow drinkers’ lives forever, all of which sounds right up my street but every time I picked it up, I had trouble remembering what had come before so I left it behind in our Airbnb. With luck, someone else will enjoy it.